Home, Sweet Home


© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that change is constant.

For as long as I can remember, up until as recently as a couple of years ago, I dreamt of a pied-à-terre in the Big Apple. It was a dream from my late twenties which I thought still needed to be fulfilled, but dreams do change with the direction of the wind.

New York City is my one favourite city on the other side of the pond with which I have a great love-and-loathe relationship. I long to be in the midst of its chaotic beauty after I've left, yet count the days until I can leave behind its concrete jungle and characterful sheer rudeness. I thought my last fortnight visit would be different because I couldn't have been in a more ideal place in which to roam with my new toy as we became acquainted (the Leica M-P and me), but not even a week in and I was ready to go home.

It seems on each visit I make across the ocean, I realise more and more how much I've changed, or perhaps how much the remnants of my past have remained the same since relocating 17 years ago. As my husband precisely discerns, there doesn't seem to be any other place in this world that suits my person better, or befits my desired lifestyle more than England. That is, Winchester and London, England.

Just over a year since my last post, and how much has changed! And how much has remained the same. From viewing several properties for sale across the Atlantic in Manhattan (intended for a pied-à-terre) with the assistance of a large personality from the Nest Seekers agency, to viewing larger spaces just a stroll away in Winchester. From nearly placing an offer on a condo in SoHo; to having an offer accepted on a stunning Grade II listed 1920's dwelling called Century House; to nearly signing the contract on a one-off modernist new build on the outskirts of Winchester called Skyview; one could draw the conclusion of lost money and wasted time, but we rather conclude our less-travelled winding path as thousands of pound sterling in exploratory funding leading to a successful outcome -- precisely the house perfectly-suited for us.

As notoriously stressful as moving home is, I shan't complain about the stress that comes hand in hand with transforming our new house into our new Home, Sweet Home, but rather be simply grateful, accept the challenge and tackle the design process.

I am relieved that my next visit to New York will be purely that -- a visit -- a visit with accommodation in one of my favourite hotels located in my favourite Manhattan neighbourhood.

Change of View


© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

Less than four weeks until year's end, and three posts sit as drafts since April - none of which mention the week studying Art of Islamic Pattern in Fez in late Spring; the two weeks in June with our teenage niece and nephew spent frolicking in Mallorca before initiating them to the African safari in Botswana and Zambia; an early birthday celebration in late Summer in complete relaxation on the Amalfi coast in Ravello and Positano; and most recently, our Icelandic Winter adventure with my sister-in-law and her family. Before I write about the latter though, I'll take two steps back to October:

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

I waited with great anticipation from the moment we arrived home from our last visit less than a year ago. Given that my longest stay had ever been only one week, a fortnight in New York City was a luxury. Our visit was three-fold: business for my husband, leisure for us both, and the hunt for a pied-à-terre which warrants its own post, so I won't say anything further about it at the moment. 

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

Instead, my thoughts on this post are about my change of view, the view through a rangefinder. Photography has only ever been a leisurely pursuit since the purchase of my first SLR in 2000 - the Canon EOS 300. I regretted not getting instruction then on how to use the camera properly. Five years later, I plunged into my first DSLR and my enthusiasm for photography grew a hundredfold. It was during my time with the Canon 20D when my husband and I crossed the pond with one-way tickets and our travels began. Not long after, I upgraded to the Canon 5D Mk II and if I had a drop of sentimentality for any of my gear, it would be for this camera which I lugged across continents and oceans from the Australian outback to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco to the beaches of Zanzibar, but I never considered it my faithful companion. It only ever was just a tool. I started to use it to capture my new interest in food at home partly to stir up the dust between travels. As camera phones continually improved, I used the ginormous DSLR less and less and had even forgotten about it on occasion whilst it sat in my Billingham bag in a cupboard. I grew tired of hauling the beast, my zeal for photography waned, and my travel blog suffered the consequences.

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

I yearned to feel the excitement I once had for photography, the desire to create images with a proper camera. The iPhone was no longer enough. My search for an unobtrusive, simple digital camera led me to the Leica brand, but it took almost two years to justify the cost. No other camera comes a close second in my mind, and no other camera is an object of beauty in my eyes. Realising that making the change to a rangefinder would be a task made me lust for it more. I needed and wanted the challenge.

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

Leica M-P has become my faithful daily companion strapped across my body these past two months. Together, we rambled Manhattan's streets and admired its skyline from across the East River in Brooklyn; returned home to England in time to capture Autumn in its splendour and it accompanies me on my daily errands and jaunts into town.

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

Since my focusing remains hit-and-miss, I didn't feel ready venturing into Iceland with the Leica M-P, but consequently, this recent trip confirmed my decision of this great purchase. I arrived home with a handful of images that solidifies the leap I made for the change in view - images of sheer joy captured on the faces of our nieces which brought tears to my sister-in-law's eyes. So, was this exorbitant purchase worth it? Absolutely.

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

This exceptionally built camera feels lovely; it sits comfortably between my hands. And despite the weighty combination of the Noctilux-M 50mm lens on the M-P 240 body, it is still compact enough to fit in my shoulder bag along with my Kindle and travel essentials. The different view through the rangefinder - the obstructed view with the lens attached forces me to take my time and be more thoughtful about each image I'm trying to create. The process of shooting is now utter pleasure.

© Grace D Lambiotte

© Grace D Lambiotte

Work In Progress


Do you think it excessive to paint nine coats on one wall? The initial four coats were painted by my decorator: the first two coats on the white plaster, in high sheen Intelligent Eggshell, clashed with the deep hue of Thai Sapphire; the finish of the second two coats in Absolute Matt harmonised with the dramatic saturated hot-blue colour, however every touch left a mark, which could not be wiped clean. After some weeks, my tolerance level of the lightly scuffed surface reached its threshold, so more tins of paint and paint rollers were purchased to attempt the task myself. Four additional coats in Intelligent Matt resulted in a richer hue, but I was unsuccessful in achieving a smooth finish with the roller. Begrudgingly, paintbrush to hand, the ninth and final coat was painted drying to a brushstroke finish, which left me satisfied much to my surprise. Alas, perfectionism is the bane of my life.

Paint Colour: Thai Sapphire by Little Greene Paint Co.

Paint Colour: Thai Sapphire by Little Greene Paint Co.

LEFT: Entrance Hallway 'Before' with view of the front door. RIGHT: Entrance Hallway 'In Progress' with view from the front door. Adnet Circulaire Mirror; Sideboard New Order by Hay; Walnut Doors by JBKind Doors.

LEFT: Entrance Hallway 'Before' with view of the front door. RIGHT: Entrance Hallway 'In Progress' with view from the front door. Adnet Circulaire Mirror; Sideboard New Order by Hay; Walnut Doors by JBKind Doors.

There's hardly a trace of old furnishings around our home. Of course, we didn't cross the pond eleven autumns ago with any at all. The early years could only afford me to gaze at unique pieces of fine craftsmanship in interior design magazines, whilst surrounded by self-assembled furniture purchased from a certain Swedish-founded retailer. My taste in design is simple and restrained, but fine simplicity comes at a rather dear price, to the dismay of my loving dear husband.

Minotti Andersen Line Sofa; Zimmer & Rohde Curtain Fabric; Foscarini Twiggy Floor Lamp; Saarinen Side Table; Wool Throw by Society Limonta; Embroidered Cushions by Charlene Mullen.

Minotti Andersen Line Sofa; Zimmer & Rohde Curtain Fabric; Foscarini Twiggy Floor Lamp; Saarinen Side Table; Wool Throw by Society Limonta; Embroidered Cushions by Charlene Mullen.

LEFT: Lounge Wall 'After'. RIGHT: Lounge Wall 'Before'.

LEFT: Lounge Wall 'After'. RIGHT: Lounge Wall 'Before'.

It is only in retrospection that I can truly appreciate the process that has procured our present. In recognising that hardship and trying times are integral to the work in progress, the climb is less arduous. I find myself taking greater care in my choices since I would rather live without, than settle for something that is not quite right, however my patience is tested every waiting period for items to be delivered. I suppose it is the additional cost of choosing pieces that are made-to-order.

Textured Wallpaper: Nouveau Cycle by Elitis.

Textured Wallpaper: Nouveau Cycle by Elitis.

Calalmo Desk by Gabriele Rosa for Zanotta; Paint Colour: Lamp Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

Calalmo Desk by Gabriele Rosa for Zanotta; Paint Colour: Lamp Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

Whilst I wait for the last order to arrive, which was placed in January, I carefully consider all of my options for lounge chairs and desk chairs: design, construction, comfort, fabrics, leather; and even a new desk to replace the first piece of furniture from my furniture-making days. It is the most exciting part of the process. And even more fun is, marrying treasures from our past with all of the present - creating a home that is uniquely our own.

Paint Colour: Jack Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

Paint Colour: Jack Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

Paint Colour: Clocktower by Marston & Langinger.

Paint Colour: Clocktower by Marston & Langinger.

Paint Colour: Jack Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

Paint Colour: Jack Black by Little Greene Paint Co.

A new-build seemed like the better choice for one who cringes at the mere thought of another human being's germs on door handles. The notion of a fixer-upper was overwhelming and paralysing. However, an obsession in interior decorating to my exact standard and taste leaves all options indiscernible. A new wall was demolished; new carpeting, new doors and new plantings were all removed and replaced. Although the kitchen-diner is functional, I have a great desire for one bespoke to my wishes. And the list continues: floor and wall tiles, sinks and taps, paving slabs, &c. The idea to gut the three-level stairwell and install one that would allow daylight from the skylight to illuminate straight through to the ground floor is one I should think to leave by the wayside. The dark-stained oak planks, which were commissioned and fitted even before we closed on the house, are enough - for now. A work in progress, it shall continue to be, is our home sweet home.

Dark-Stained Oak Flooring throughout the house: Winchester Hardwood Flooring.

Dark-Stained Oak Flooring throughout the house: Winchester Hardwood Flooring.